Biblical Greek - Lesson 31

Subjunctive Mood

In this lesson, you will gain a thorough understanding of the subjunctive mood in Biblical Greek. The subjunctive mood is essential for understanding nuances of meaning in the New Testament, as it is used to express potentiality or contingency. The lesson provides detailed information on forming the present and aorist subjunctive, as well as their various functions, including purpose clauses, prohibitions, deliberative questions, conditional statements, and the hortatory subjunctive. Additionally, you will learn tips on identifying and translating verbs in the subjunctive mood by recognizing specific verb forms and contextual clues.

Bill Mounce
Biblical Greek
Lesson 31
Watching Now
Subjunctive Mood

I. Introduction to the Subjunctive Mood

A. Definition and Usage

B. Importance in Biblical Greek

II. Formation of the Subjunctive Mood

A. Present Subjunctive

B. Aorist Subjunctive

1. First Aorist

2. Second Aorist

III. Functions of the Subjunctive Mood

A. Purpose Clauses

B. Prohibition

C. Deliberative Questions

D. Conditional Statements

E. Hortatory Subjunctive

IV. Tips for Identifying and Translating Subjunctive Mood

A. Recognizing Subjunctive Verbs

B. Contextual Clues

  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the fundamentals of biblical Greek, including the alphabet and pronunciation, nouns and adjectives, pronouns and verbs, and the importance of further study. You will learn about the declension of nouns and the conjugation of verbs in different tenses, such as the present, imperfect, future, and aorist. This lesson provides a comprehensive overview of the basics of biblical Greek, making it accessible to beginners who are just starting to learn.
  • In the Learning Greek lesson, you will tackle memorization, learn about tools to assist you, understand the importance of exercises, and discover the significance of time, consistency, and discipline to enhance your Greek language skills and develop a closer connection with Jesus.
  • In this lesson, you learn the Greek alphabet and its pronunciation, discovering similarities to the English alphabet and mastering special pronunciation rules like gamma nasal, vowels, diphthongs, iota subscript, diuresis, and breathing marks, crucial for Greek language study.
  • You will gain insight into the importance of punctuation and syllabification in Greek, which will help you better understand the meaning and pronunciation of Greek texts.
  • Through this lesson, you will develop a solid foundation in English nouns, their types, functions in sentences, and practical tips for mastery.
  • In this lesson, you grasp the significance of nominative and accusative definite articles in Biblical Greek, exploring their roles in identifying subjects and direct objects, and applying the definite article in context.
  • This lesson equips you with the knowledge to identify and translate the genitive and dative cases in biblical Greek, enhancing your understanding and interpretation of biblical texts.
  • Gain insight into the importance of prepositions in Biblical Greek, explore their different categories and meanings, and learn how they modify verbs, nouns, and adjectives to enhance your understanding of the New Testament's original language.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about adjectives in Biblical Greek, their declension, comparison, and their crucial role in syntax, semantics, interpretation, and translation of Biblical texts.
  • By studying the third declension in Biblical Greek, you gain insight into noun and adjective formations, enhancing your ability to analyze and interpret New Testament texts.
  • You gain knowledge of first and second person personal pronouns in Biblical Greek, learning their forms, usage, and application in translating and interpreting New Testament texts.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of Greek pronouns, focusing on forms and genders, and learn to apply this knowledge to accurately interpret biblical texts.
  • By studying this lesson, you acquire a thorough understanding of demonstrative pronouns and adjectives in Biblical Greek, their forms, syntax, and proper application in New Testament passages.
  • This lesson equips you to comprehend relative pronouns in Biblical Greek and their role in connecting ideas and forming dependent clauses.
  • In this lesson, you gain an in-depth understanding of verbs in Biblical Greek, learning about tenses, voices, and moods, and how to apply this knowledge in biblical exegesis.
  • Master the present active indicative in Biblical Greek to understand the language's structure, form regular and irregular verbs, and accurately translate and interpret the text.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into contract verbs in Biblical Greek, learning to identify and parse them, enabling accurate translation and interpretation of the New Testament texts.
  • This lesson provides a deep understanding of the present middle-passive indicative verb forms in Biblical Greek, including their formation, usage, and tips for accurate translation.
  • This lesson provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the future active and middle indicative verb forms in Biblical Greek, equipping you with translation techniques and practice exercises to enhance your skillset.
  • Through this lesson, you acquire knowledge of verbal roots and future forms in Biblical Greek, enabling better interpretation of the New Testament by recognizing regular and irregular patterns.
  • This lesson teaches you how to understand and use the imperfect indicative in biblical Greek, offering insights into verb conjugations, context, and translation accuracy.
  • You will gain expertise in Second Aorist Active and Middle Indicative forms in Biblical Greek, their formation, usage, and importance in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson equips you with knowledge of the First Aorist Active and Middle Indicative in Biblical Greek, covering formation, parsing, and translation techniques while providing examples from the New Testament.
  • By studying this lesson, you learn to identify and translate Aorist and Future Passive Indicative verb forms in Biblical Greek, enabling accurate exegesis and interpretation of the New Testament.
  • In this lesson, you acquire knowledge on forming, conjugating, and translating perfect indicative verbs in biblical Greek, with a focus on understanding context and handling irregular verb forms.
  • Through this lesson, you learn about Greek participles, their types, and translation techniques, enhancing your ability to analyze and understand the New Testament texts.
  • This lesson teaches you to identify, translate, and interpret present continuous adverbial participles in Biblical Greek, enhancing your understanding of New Testament exegesis.
  • Gain insights into aorist undefined adverbial participles, their types, and translation techniques to improve your understanding of the Greek text and biblical exegesis.
  • Through this lesson, you master the intricacies of adjectival participles in biblical Greek, including their forms, translation, and syntax, ultimately enhancing your ability to analyze and translate biblical texts.
  • This lesson teaches you the intricacies of perfect participles and genitive absolutes in biblical Greek, enabling you to accurately translate and understand complex grammatical structures.
  • Gain insight into the subjunctive mood in Biblical Greek, understanding its formation, functions, and importance for interpreting the New Testament's nuanced meanings.
  • Through this lesson, you learn to recognize and understand the various roles and functions of infinitives in Biblical Greek, ultimately enhancing your ability to study the biblical text.
  • In this lesson, you learn about the imperative mood in Biblical Greek, its forms and uses, negation, and the subjunctive as an alternative for expressing commands and requests.
  • In this lesson, you learn to understand and apply the imperative mood in Biblical Greek, including its formation, nuances, and its use in exegesis.
  • In this lesson, you gain a deeper understanding of non-indicative forms and conditional sentences, learning to differentiate between subjunctive, imperative, infinitive, and participle forms, as well as first, second, and third class conditional sentences, while expanding your vocabulary.
  • Gain insights into Biblical Greek constructs, conditional sentences, Greek particles, and techniques for parsing and translating complex passages, enhancing your ability to interpret the New Testament.

These lectures will take you through the main points of each chapter in Bill Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek (3rd edition). These Summary Lectures are also available at billmounce.com, along with other free resources for learning biblical Greek. [The first lecture was originally given in the course Dr. Mounce was teaching at Gordon-Conwell seminary. The syllabus he mentions was for that group of students and is not available.]


BillMounce.com also sells video lectures by Bill Mounce that cover every point in the grammar.

Recommended Books

Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar 3rd (third) Edition

Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar 3rd (third) Edition

William D. Mounce's "Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar" and its companion tool "Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook" are the best-selling and most widely accepted textbooks for learning New Testament Greek.
Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar 3rd (third) Edition

Dr. Bill Mounce
Biblical Greek
Subjunctive Mood
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] Today, we're going to look at chapter 31, the chapter on subjunctive. Now, you remember back when we started verbs. I said that all the verbs you're going to see for quite a while are going to be indicative mood verbs. And I said, Don't worry what the indicative is. Everything you're going to see is indicative for a while. Well, we're now at a point where we need to really learn what the indicative is, and we're going to learn what it is by comparing it to the subjunctive, which is the next mood we're going to look at. Participles technically are not a mood, but they're not indicative either. So the subjunctive is the next mood. We're going to look at the indicative mood. It's the mood of reality. It's the mood of what is. Most of the verbs in English are used in the indicative mood. And so if you want to make a statement of fact, if you want make an assertion, if you want to ask a question, these are all the indicative moods. Now it gets into the philosophy of language. Well, can I lie in the indicative? Yes, because language is just a portrayal of reality. And so if you want someone to believe something, your verbs are still in the indicative. But the indicative is the mood of reality. Assertions, facts, questions. The subjunctive is the mood of probability or possibility. In other words, if you want to state what something may or might be, if you want to take one step back from reality, your verb is technically going to shift into the subjunctive mood. So if you're in the indicative, you'll see I am rich. But if you're going to go into the subjunctive and state what mayor might be and if you know your musicals, you would say, If I were a rich man, I am rich.

[00:02:06] If I were rich, if I if it might happen, if it might be the case that I am rich, then something. I am rich. She went to the store. I might become a Greek scholar if I were a rich man. Now, fortunately, there is only two tenses that are used in the subjunctive in Greek. I wonder why we're outside the indicative system. There's no time. And then the subjunctive is used to express two aspects. One tense will be used to express the subjunctive that's continuous, and one tense will be used to express the subjunctive. That's undefined. I wonder which one's going to be continuous. In other words, the subjunctive is a very easy set of forms to learn because you either have subjunctive as formed on the present, or you have some junctures formed on an error. And guess what? They all use the same endings. Lumen. What is that? Well, you have the present tense stem and you have an omega. Guess what the sign of the subjunctive is? Lengthened connecting vowel. And so all microns are going to go to Omegas and Epsilon are going to go to Ada's. That's one of the big signs that you're in the subjunctive. And then you have your normal ending. So Lululemon is a first person, plural, present, active subjunctive from LOOL. And then when you pass these things, just use may or might we might loose Lou et. You might loose. Now, if you really want to bring out the continuous nature because again, the subjunctive that's formed on the present tense term does not indicate a present action. It only indicates a continuous action. So if you want to bring it out in your translation, you can say something like We continue to lose, but most likely you will bring it out in your preaching.

[00:04:22] So here's the presence of junked of compared with the present indicative Lou. Well, Lou ace Lou a Lou Ohman Lou to Lou I'll see you can see what's happened. The connecting vowel has lengthened and has absorbed part of the person lending, yadda, subscript, that kind of thing. What would you think? Lou Sillman is an initial glance. It looks like it's a future, doesn't it? Because you have a sigma is not followed by an alpha. This is the key. There are no future subjunctive. It doesn't exist because subjunctive indicate aspect. So you either have continuous or undefined and you use the arrest for the undefined aspect. What happened to the augment? Yeah, Well, bye bye. Okay, we're outside of the indicative. There's no absolute time outside the indicative. So the augment goes away and UN augments. And so Luce Somen is an earnest, active subjunctive. You can see what happens when you get into second eras. There's no augment, but there's also no sigma, right? Because secondaries don't use a tense formative. Now, how are you going to know that Lieberman is not a present subjunctive? You memory work. You may look at it and say, Oh, that's from the word label. I don't know the word label. You look it up in the dictionary. There is no word label. This is why was just critical at this point. When you see verbal forms, if you can't tell what they are right away. You've got to ask yourself the question, is this the form I memorized? Is the stem that I'm looking at the present tense stem? And if it's not, you know, you're outside of the present tense system and your mind goes to a different place in the chart. Okay. But that's just pure memory work.

[00:06:26] But I'm going to show you a clue, actually, a series of clues that make it even easier to recognize subjunctive, even easier than the long vowel. But before we do that again, just so you can see it. There's the paradigm. Lucille. Lucy's. Lucy. Lucy, summon Lucy to Lucy. You'll notice that it's the same personal endings that we have with the present. Right. But you're on the arrest stem. That's the difference. Okay. What are the clues? Who is used to negate the indicative? When you see the American Muslim, that's a negation. You know, there's an indicative construction coming up when you see may. Red flags need to start waving all over the place in your head. Something other than the indicative is coming up. If you're going to negate the participle, it'll be a may. If you're going to indicate a subjunctive, it's a may. If you're going to negate an imperative, it's a may. If you're going to indicate an infinitive, it's a may. In other words, the second you see a may, you know that you're outside of the indicative verbal system. That's one of the really big clues. It means the same thing as you, but it always means that a non indicative form is following another major clue. There are certain words that introduce clauses that always take the subjunctive. In other words, when you see the word, you know, in order that all the verbal forms in the hint clauses have been defined for you up to this point because they're all subjunctive. Can you see why? Here now, which introduces the purpose clause, has to switch into the subjunctive in Greek. When you state that this is done in order that something else might be done. So you're outside of the mood of reality.

[00:08:32] You're into the subjunctive. You're into the subjunctive because it's a purpose clause. So whenever you see a hint, a red flags wave, start looking for a subjunctive. Whenever you see any form of on Alpha Nu and it occurs in as a crisis with words like Hutton or an and it can also occur like with relative pronouns that turn hue to whoever you've seen these, right? Remember, whenever you see that alpha nu, the verb that follows has to be in the subjunctive, because that's the function of on is making it general. It's making it not specific, but general. And in Greek, that means the subjunctive. Whenever you see hills, get looking for a subjunctive. It's really important that you do this because especially if your vocabulary is not up or if you can't remember, there aren't such things as future subjunctive sometimes that long vowel, I mean, it stands out pretty well, but it can get a bit lost. What is these words that when you see them, you go, Oh, look for subjunctive. Look for subjunctive, and you'll find it One of the more common places that you're going to find a subjunctive is in a conditional sentence. And if then kind of sentence. Now, one of the more common kind of conditional sentences start with a non. So this is really a subset of the previous overhead. But when you want to describe something that may or might happen, if I inherit $1,000,000, then such and such, or if God loves me, he will such and such. When you're making that kind of conditional sentence the first half, the if clause will always start with the neon and the verb, and the if clause will always be subjunctive. So that's just one kind of subset of the previous slide.

[00:10:25] Again, that's the clue on subjunctive. You see these certain words, they trigger your mind. You start looking for a subjunctive, you see the long connecting vowel, that's the subjunctive. And one last thing. There are roughly four ways to ask a question in Greek. One way to ask the question is simply to ask a question. And there's. Nothing special about it. And the clue will be the English semicolon, Right. The Greek question mark at the end of the sentence. But it's also possible to use the subjunctive in asking a question. Now, the technical category is deliberative subjunctive. And I should say there's a few other uses of the subjunctive in the textbook that I haven't covered. But you can get those when you read it. But there is something called the deliberative subjunctive. And what it's doing. It's a way to ask a question that the speaker doesn't want a yes or no answer. It's a way of asking a question that the speaker wants you to deliberate about it, to think about it, to mull it over. And often, not always, but often you can't answer these questions yes or no. And so, for example, this question says concerning clothing. Why do you worry? Okay, That's a deliberative subjunctive. So concerning clothing. Why do you worry? See, what Jesus is saying is I don't want a yes or no answer. I want you to think about it. I want you to deliberate about it. Why do you worry? And so the verb goes into the subjunctive, and it's the clue that it's a different kind of question. Okay. Thirdly, what you can do is indicate what you think the answer to the question is. Now, we do this in English as well, don't we? I could say you want to learn Greek, don't you? And even if you couldn't hear the inflection, the don't, you tells you that I think at least the answer to the question is yes.

[00:12:30] But if I said you don't want to learn Hebrew, do you? Even if you couldn't hear the inflection, you would say, Well, I think the answer is no, that's not true. But that would be the nature of how we do it in English, right? The same thing happens in Greek. When you have the you at the beginning of the question, that's the author's way of saying, I think the answer is yes. And you'd be amazed at how many times questions are asked in the biblical texts that the expected answer is not what you're going to get out of reading the English. I mean, this is one of those exegetical things that's really helpful. And yet it's one of those things that almost never gets translated in translations. But Teacher, does it not care to you that we are perishing the disciples of Jesus in the boat? Now, when you read that question in the past and they're yelling at Jesus to you care, they were perishing. You're sleeping. Don't you care? The impression is that they're saying, No, you really don't care. Is that how I always took it? But by the very way, they're asking the question the disciples are telling Jesus. It doesn't appear that you care, but we know that you do. That's what the OU is doing there. Conversely, if you want to indicate that the expected answer is no. You use a may and again, at the end of first Corinthians 12 you'll read in translations. All are not apostles, all are not prophets, all are not teachers, all do not work powers. Remember hearing a sermon on this verse once where the preacher was pointing out that the answer to each of these questions is yes. And that's why, among other things, we all have to speak in tongues.

[00:14:17] No, Greek is absolutely explicit that the answer is no seems kind of obvious. I mean, the whole tongues issue aside, I don't know of anyone who seriously thinks that we all can have the gift of a fossil ship. But be that as it may in the Greek, it's absolutely explicit that the expected answer to the question is no because of the ME. Okay, so four different ways to ask questions in Greek. Lots of good sermons come out of this kind of stuff that's just subjunctive is pretty straightforward in form. Watch for the triggers. That's the key thing.